Tuesday, October 13, 2015

What are the Signs and Symptoms of an Abscessed Tooth?

About two weeks ago, I was eating my breakfast while sitting at the car dealership getting the oil changed in the car. I bit down on my breakfast sandwich and all of a sudden I felt horrible, jolting pain in my mouth. I knew that I had some issues with my teeth but I was putting it off. This wasn't a good idea because I could have totally prevented the mess that I was in.

When I went to the dentist, he told me that my tooth was infected which is why it hurt so bad to bite down on my food. An abscessed tooth is a super painful infection that usually happens at the base of the root or between the root and your gums. Most abscesses are caused by severe tooth decay, trauma to a tooth, gingivitis, or gum disease.

The infection usually starts with bacteria getting trapped under an old filling, a deep cavity that hasn't been filled, or through a crack in your tooth. The bacteria starts multiplying and slowly infecting the pulp (the middle portion) of your tooth. As the infection continues to grow, it then spreads to the root and to the bones in your jaw. 

What are the Signs and Symptoms of an Abscessed Tooth?

  • fever
  • pain when chewing food or putting pressure on your tooth
  • sensitive teeth to cold or hot foods when your teeth aren't usually sensitive
  • bitter or weird taste in your mouth
  • foul smelling breath
  • swollen glands in your neck
  • overall ill feeling
  • redness or swelling along your gums or around your tooth
  • swollen or painful jaw
  • open sore that is draining in your mouth
It is very important that you don't ignore an abscessed tooth. Over time the root will eventually die and your pain may go away; however, the infection can remain present. The dentists at New Teeth New Smile recommend getting treatment right away if you suspect an abscessed tooth so that you can get proper treatment and prevent the infection from spreading to multiple teeth or jaw. Your dentist will need to take x-rays of your tooth to determine how severe the infection is. 

Your dentist will do what they can to try to save the tooth by performing a root canal to drain the tooth. If your tooth can't be saved due to infection, the dentist might have to extract your tooth so that they can drain the infection using the socket. 

If you suffer from chronic pain, I highly suggest that you take care of any dental problems immediately before they become a huge problem. Don't forget to see the dentist at least every 6 months for a check up.

Photo Credit: Flickr

Have you ever had an abscessed tooth?

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Chronic Pain Patients Have an Increased Risk of Dental Problems

During my pregnancy with my youngest son, I happened to notice that one of my molars was splitting down the middle. I didn't think much of it at the time when I was pregnant until after I delivered my son. I started getting unexplained headaches and I thought I was having problems with my blood pressure. Turns out that I was clenching my teeth and that it was causing my headaches. I went to the dentist to have my teeth looked at and he confirmed that the crack in my tooth was from clenching my teeth at night. He fixed my teeth temporarily and that I would eventually have to have some major dental work done on my teeth.

Potential Dental Problems

After a little bit of research, I discovered that it is common for chronic pain patients to have dental problems including cracked or broken teeth, TMJ, and even premature tooth decay. So if you have any of these issues, you need to see a dentist immediately to try to prevent problems before they start. They make an appliance that you can wear at night to help prevent you from grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw. 

I personally tried to the over the counter mouth guards and they didn't work very well for me. I found myself biting down on it and it would make my jaw hurt more or I would find it in the bed the next morning. The mouth guard from the dentist is supposed to stay in place better because they are made to fit your teeth better.

TMJ Symptoms

It isn't fully understood why chronic pain patients are at risk for TMJ. They think that it has something to do with the tightening of your muscles in your entire body. Some of the symptoms of TMJ include:
  • Jaw pain especially in the joint
  • Popping or clicking sound when you open your jaw
  • Ear pain
  • Ringing or popping ears
  • Headaches
  • Tight or sore muscles in the jaw or neck
  • Blurry vision
  • Should pain
  • Lock jaw
  • Dislocated jaw

Dental Cavities

If you are taking several prescriptions, it is possible that you have an increased risk of getting dental cavities easier especially if you are a mouth breather. The reason that you are at risk for getting cavities some of your medications dry out your mouth. The saliva in your mouth is designed to protect your teeth and help flush the bacteria and fungus from your mouth. When your mouth is dry, it allows the bacteria/fungus to multiply in your mouth you are at risk to get dental cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease.

It is important that you see your dentist on a regular basis to monitor your teeth for potential damage and cavities. If you don't take care of your teeth, you are at risk for needing dental implants or dentures at an early age. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

I Have Been Diagnosed with Fibromyalgia

It has been a long time since I have updated my blog and I wanted to share that I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia after a year long fight to get into a rhematologist. A little over a year ago, I started noticing significant changes in my body and knew that something wasn't right. I couldn't put my finger on it at first because I thought I was just having reactions to my medication changes. However, after starting new medications and giving them an opportunity to work, I will still struggling with all over joint pain. 

Disclosure: This post is for informational purposes only.

The best way to describe my aches and pains would be similar to getting the flu. If you have ever had the flu, the fever and body aches are horrendous especially the older that you get. I took my regular medications and was using motrin in order to function for my two year old. It took me every ounce of my well being to take care of him and try to maintain my other blog. 

It took me several months to convince my pain management doctor that I had something else going on and after a year he finally agreed to send me to the rhematologist. He was running out of ideas on how to treat my back pain without costly treatments but he couldn't explain the all over joint pain that I was experiencing. It is a frustrating process but remember that you are your own medical advocate and sometimes you have to push your team to help you along the way.

I saw the rhematlogist at the very end of August and she started me on a Lyrica, a new medication, immediately to help with the all over joint pain. I am thankful that she was attentive to my needs and she actually listened to my concerns. After a lengthy amount of questions, she was pretty sure that I had Fibromyalgia but wanted to redo my blood work to rule out other medical issues that have similar symptoms. I went back 6 weeks later and she examined me again and said that I had the tender points associated with Fibromyalgia and confirmed that my blood work looked great. 

I am somewhat scared of this new official diagnosis but at the same time I am relieved that there is treatment for it. It is a life long illness and it will forever change my life. 

I will continue updating my blog, hopefully, more frequently than I have in the past.

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Friday, January 31, 2014

Can Chronic Pain Cause Symptoms of Fibromaylgia?

Medication to Deal With Chornic Pain and Fibro SymtpomsIt has been a while since I have updated my blog and I thought that I would catch you up on what is going on with my health.  In late August, I asked my pain management doctor if there wasn't another alternative to Cymbalta because even with insurance it was very expensive.  At the time, we didn't know how much longer it would be until Lilly's patent ran out so that they could begin making a generic.  My doctor decided to slowly wean me off the Cymbalta slowly so that my body wouldn't go into shock from completely stopping the medication cold turkey.  After I stopped taking the Cymbalta completely, my pain tripled and I had a hard time functioning.  It took all of my energy to attempt to take care of my youngest son during the day and I felt horrible physically and emotionally.

After a week of feeling like I had the flu, I broke down and called my primary care doctor so that he could run some tests.  I addressed to my pain management doctor that I felt like I had some other medical issues going on because my pain was radiating to all of the joints in my body and my pain wasn't localized to my back any longer.  I had pain in my hips, wrists, elbows, shoulders, knees, back, ankles, and more.  My primary care dr ruled out any autoimmune diseases and did the typical physical tests for Fibromyalgia.  He wanted me to follow up with my pain management Dr.  So I contacted my pain management doctor for an appointment because something had to change immediately.  He looked at my blood work that I had done at my primary care doctor and said it looked normal too him.  

My pain management doctor asked me if I wanted to try another antidepressant to help control the pain.  I told him that I had to do something because my pain was off the charts and I felt horrible.  I was in a dark place emotionally because of my pain.  After giving the new medication a try, it took a few months to get the dosage to a therapeutic level.  Of course, even the medication doesn't take away all of my physical pain but it did stabilize my emotional health.  My emotional health so fragile before trying the new medication and it is doing its job to help me cope with my pain.  It doesn't work as well as Cymbalta but even then I was having breakthrough pain and felt it wasn't working that well, until I came off of it completely.  

If you suffer from chronic pain, you are more likely to develop secondary symptoms of Fibromyalgia.  According to About.com, secondary Fibromyalgia appears after or in conjunction with other chronic health problems such as:
  • physical injury
  • ankylsoing spondylitis (a form of arthritis in your spine)
  • surgery
  • lymes disease
  • hepatitis C
Secondary Fibromyalgia is a bit harder for doctors to treat because there are multiple medical conditions going on at once.  If you are suffering from chronic pain, you need to seek medical treatment so that your doctor can work with you closely to rule out what it triggering your pain symptoms.

At this time, I don't think my doctor has given me a formal diagnosis of Fibromyalgia mainly because it takes some time for doctors to determine other medical conditions that mimic the same symptoms.  There isn't any tests available on the market that makes diagnosing Fibromyalgia easy.  In fact, your doctor will likely do tests and blood work to rule out other medical conditions.  Most doctors will give you a formal diagnosis for Fibromyalgia if you have had wide spread pain for 3 months or longer and have 11 out of 18 tender points.  Don't be surprised if it takes the doctors a long time to give you a formal diagnosis.  

Even though I am on the typical treatment plan that they would use to treat Fibromyalgia, I still experience wide spread pain on a daily basis.  Some days are harder than others and there are days where I want to crawl in bed and stay there all day long.  It has been a long time since I have had a low pain day and my medications only reduce the pain a small amount.  On a typical day, I experience deep pain in my bones, muscles, and I am tender to the touch.  

I applied for disability in October of 2012 and I have been denied several times (I will blog about the process in more detail at a later time).  I am currently awaiting a hearing with the judge to determine if I am eligible to receive disability.  

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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Are You Financially Prepared for a Disability?

Worried About Losing Income DisabilityMany people aren't aware that disability is the number one cause of financial distress among families today.  People aren't prepared  for financial losses due to an injury or long term illness which often causes people to lose part of their income, especially, if you are used to living pay check to pay check each month.  In fact, the number of households that are currently living pay check to pay check is quite staggering.  Financial experts often recommend that people have a minimum of 4 to 6 months worth of salary tucked away.  Many people think that they aren't at risk for becoming disabled, unless they have a job that puts them at risk.  Did you know that 1 and 4 people will become disabled before they are able to retire?  No one ever expects or thinks that it is a remote possibility that they could be forced into an early retirement, have to take long term medical leave, or even deal with an injury that forces you take a lower paying job.  Just FYI, it takes roughly 30 to 36 months for a disability claim to be approved by the government.

Disclosure:  This post is for informational purposes only.  I am not a financial planner or adviser.  The opinions reflected in this post are my own and are based upon my own health and experience.

Open a Savings Account

A savings account is a great way to put money aside for a rainy day.  You never know when you need additional money to cover medical expenses, monthly expenses due to a layoff or disability, or even need money to pay day to day bills.  I  personally recommend making it hard to get to the money so that you aren't constantly withdrawing from this bank account unless it is a true emergency.  Using this method, can help you determine if you really need something vs getting something you want.  It isn't as tempting when you don't have the money in your checking account or cash to cover what you want.  When you set up a savings account, you can have your employer send a certain amount of money each paycheck to your savings account and the rest of your paycheck to your everyday household checking account.  Many financial experts recommend paying yourself first.  In fact, most recommend paying yourself the first 10% of your check.  If you tuck away 10% of your paycheck each month, you will be surprised how quickly the money will accumulate if it is left untouched.  Taking the money directly from your paycheck prevents you  from over spending or not putting away the money for a rainy day. 

Invest in a Short-Term Disability Policy

Getting a short term disability policy can help with unexpected issues.  The policy usually helps cover your everyday living expenses while you are unable to work without you losing all of your personal income.  A short term disability policy is for people who suffer from an illness or disability that keeps you from being able to work for a short period of time.  Talk to your human resources department to determine if your company has a group policy for short term disability.  If your company doesn't offer a short-term disability,  you can easily get a private policy.  In fact, check with your auto insurance company to see if they provide short-term disability policies.  Most people don't realize that having multiple policies often gives you a discount which helps make the plan more affordable.  

Invest in a Long-Term Disability Policy

Many people aren't prepared for long term illness or disabilities that could prevent you from working.  A long-term disability policy picks up where your short term policy ends.  Getting a long-term disability policy can prevent you from losing your house, car, or lifestyle that you enjoyed before you became disabled.  The long term policy has many great benefits and can protect you and your family from financial issues in the event that you can no longer work or do your job.  If you can't return to your original position and have to take a major pay cut, a long term policy will continue paying your payments at a reduced rate(check your policy for exact details).  Check with your human resources office to determine if your company has a long term disability group policy (you get lower rates).  If not, contact a private company to get benefits. 

Check With a Financial Adviser Before Cashing in Your Retirement Funds

If you become disabled, it is possible that you may be forced to cash in any retirement accounts that you have.  However, before cashing in a retirement policy you should consult a financial planner for assistance before making the decision to cash in your retirement.  Remember once you have exhausted all over your assets, then you no longer have a back up plan.  When you cash in your retirement , it is best to put the money into a separate bank account so that you aren't over-spending each month.  The money should be used to cover your basic living expenses so that you can try and stretch your funds as far as possible.  You also talk to a financial planner if cashing in your retirement will put you into a higher tax bracket.  

Save Your Tax Refund Check

If you are one of the lucky people who actually get a tax refund, you should either save it or use it to pay down your debt.  I know that most people often times splurge on items that they want; instead, of putting money aside for an emergency.  

Preparing for the Future

Short and long term disability policies are a great investment, in case something happens that you and leaves you unable to work.  This is the one thing that I personally failed to do because I considered these types of policies to be too expensive and I never imagined being unable to work.  A policy like this would have covered my current situation and I wouldn't have to feel so guilty for not being able to work.  

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Are you prepared financially if you are unable to work due to a long-term illness or disability?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Listen to Your Body, When You are In Pain Your Body is Telling You to Slow Down

Relaxing While Reading a BookYikes, it has been a while since I have written anything on this blog.  The weeks seem to be running together and I have been busy  lately.  Last Tuesday, June 11th, my daughter had surgery and I had to  go to the doctor on Wednesday to see my pain management doctor.  The week before my daughter's surgery, my upper back started hurting really bad, it has been a while since I have had my upper back flare up so bad that I couldn't get comfortable no matter what position I tried.

I am not sure what I did to cause my increased pain.  However, if I knew for sure what I did I would make sure that I wouldn't repeat the same mistake or task again without being more careful.  I found it very difficult to get comfortable or be able to even lay down to rest.  Laying down for a few hours during the day helps decrease my pain, in addition to the pain medicine that I take in the morning usually makes me drowsy.  I attempted to contact my doctor on Friday to see if he could call me in a script or squeeze me in that afternoon.  Of course, my doctor and his nurse happened to be out of the office and wouldn't return until Monday.  The pain was so intense I considered going to urgent care or to the ER.  Instead, I choose to just deal with the pain because I didn't want them to turn me away or do a bunch of tests for a diagnosis that I already have.

Finally, the doctor's office returned my call on Monday, June 10th and said that if I was hurting that bad that I would need to come into see the doctor.  When I spoke to the nurse, I thought that I was going to be okay and that my pain was improving; however, after sleeping in a hotel bed and sitting at the hospital all day on Tuesday I quickly changed my mind.  Every day I can feel back spasms in my upper back.  It feels as if the muscles are on fire.

On June 11th, while sitting in the waiting room at the hospital I decided that I probably should take care of my upper back issues.  After all I don't want it to get any worse than it it already is.  So while my daughter was in surgery, I called my doctors office and scheduled an appointment to see my pain management doctor the follow day.

He looked at me kinda funny and asked how everything was going because I was in his office sooner than normal routine schedule.  I told him that my upper back was hurting and that the pain was bad enough that it has been affecting my sleep.  I would toss and turn in bed all night long and my pain medicine wasn't taking the edge off of my pain.  Tossing and turning isn't exactly my idea of fun as I try and attempt to find a comfortable position to sleep in, plus it keeps my husband awake at night.  He suggested that we try cortisone injections in my shoulder blades and upper back to try and help control my flare up.  Unfortunately, it doesn't look like I will be getting cortisone injections at all because they are subject to my deductible.

While I was in the office, I talked to my doctor about what my orthopedic doctor said about surgery.  I told him that my orthopedic doctor thought that I would be a good candidate for a spinal fusion.  I asked him if he felt that a spinal fusion would help with my pain.  He agreed with my orthopedic doctor.  Finally, two doctors on the same page.  :)  He also recommended suggested trying radio-frequency procedure which is a form of spinal decompression which is supposed to help relieve the pain.  The only down fall it is usually not covered by most insurance companies and only has about a 50 to 60 percent chance of working. Decisions, decisions, decisions.

I left the doctors office with another prescription in hand and guess what this prescription also makes me sleepy.  Being sleepy during the day takes away from me having a productive lifestyle and the ability to provide for my family.  However, on the bright side my new prescription for a muscle relaxer has allowed me to get some restful sleep the last few days.  I hate taking so many pills to make my pain go away.

Lately, I have been feeling bummed out and depressed because I feel like I can't contribute to my family like I could a few years ago.  It is hard knowing that I can't help provide for my family the way I once was able too.

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Disclosure:  This post is for informational purposes only and should never replace getting appropriate medical care.

Friday, June 7, 2013

It is Important to Take Care of Yourself During a Flare Up

Relaxing in ChairThis week has been fairly challenging for me and my pain has increased dramatically in my upper back.  Even though, I don't always verbalize my additional pain.  I would hope that others notice my change in pain levels.  I know that I probably should verbalize it but I hate to feel as if I am constantly complaining about my pain.   I always think others around me can sense that I am in pain.  The last few days my upper back has decided to flare up.  A few years ago my vertebrae in my upper back showed that I had arthritis.

Disclosure:   This post is for informational purposes only.  The opinions reflected in this post are my own and may differ from your own.  This post shouldn't replace any medical treatment that you may need for your flare up. 

Arthritis is often something that most people think of older people having and not younger people like myself.  However, when you are injured your body tries to heal itself and if it is unable to fully heal your body tends to age and break down sooner than if you were uninjured.  When I get an arthritis flare up in my upper back, my muscles begin to spasm.  I also feel an intense burning sensation and major pain in my spine and muscles.  So far my normal course of typical treatments that I use during a flare up hasn't helped to ease the pain.  In fact, it has kept me up several nights in a row and it is even more difficult than usual to find a comfortable position to sleep in.  Even sleeping during the day has been challenging.  

Last night I tried putting the heating pad on my upper back, to see if it would help ease the pain.  However, it didn't seem to help or reduce my pain.  Generally, laying flat or sleeping also helps to ease my pain but even that doesn't seem to be working.  I have been waking up in the mornings with the same pain that I felt when I went to bed.  I am already taking pain medications on a daily basis and it doesn't even touch the pain.  If this pain lasts much longer, I am going to have to break down and go see my doctor sooner than my scheduled appointment.  

If you find that your normal methods of pain isn't relieving your flares, you should go see your doctor for an evaluation.  I am thinking some of this flare is caused by some additional stress that I have been dealing with this week.  When I tend to get stressed out, my muscles tense up and begin to spasm.  Once I have set off that chain reaction, it takes several days for things to settle down and in the past I have been prescribed heavy duty muscle relaxers to help ease the pain.  I have been resting as much as possible the last few days trying to relieve the symptoms of my flare up.  Hopefully, things will calm down over the weekend and I won't have to make an emergency trip to see my doctor.  

It has been a few years since I have had my upper back checked out because I usually my pain is more localized in my lower back.  My previous doctor said that my upper back is a direct result of me compensating for the problems in my lower back.  However, next time that I have to have an MRI done, I will ask my doctor to do a full spine assessment.  So that we can see what is really going on in my upper back and neck.

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What relieves your pain during an arthritis flare up?